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Should You Like The Clorox Company’s (NYSE:CLX) High Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at The Clorox Company (NYSE:CLX) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Clorox:

0.30 = US$1.1b ÷ (US$5.1b - US$1.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Clorox has an ROCE of 30%.

View our latest analysis for Clorox

Does Clorox Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Clorox's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 13% average in the Household Products industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Clorox's ROCE is currently very good.

The image below shows how Clorox's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:CLX Past Revenue and Net Income, September 14th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Clorox's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Clorox has total liabilities of US$1.4b and total assets of US$5.1b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 28% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won't have much impact on the already great ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Clorox's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Clorox look quite interesting. Clorox looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.